People all over the world suffer from all kinds of fears, some of which have more of an effect on our daily lives than others. One such example is the fear of stairs, which can really cause problems for people when they are forced to encounter a staircase at work, at someone’s home, or even just when they are out shopping.
A fear of stairs can develop for any number of reasons, such as having a terrible fall when you were younger, which has led to a constant feeling of being unsafe when climbing or descending them. It can be very hard to overcome any fear, especially when others don’t seem to understand just how much it scares you and so try to push you into it, which often only makes things a lot worse.
You have to be ready, so if you are at this stage where you really want to overcome your fear, there are a number of ways that you can start this process:
Come to terms with why you are afraid
Most fears are often escalated in our heads, especially if we have let them run on for years. You need to sit down and think about what it is exactly that scares you about the stairs. Is it that you’re worried about falling after doing so and hurting yourself when you were younger? Is it that you are frightened of the height aspect? Is there something about the materials used on certain stairs that upsets you? Is it that some stairs don’t have safety railings?
Once you have figured out the root of your problem and accepted it, it makes things a lot easier to deal with. You can also see how rational or irrational you are being and start to think of ways that you are going to be able to deal with your fear properly, so that it no longer impedes the way you live your life.
Confront your fear by studying it
It’s a really good idea to look up other examples online of where people have been frightened of using stairs but are now cured. Not only will realising that you’re not the only one make you feel a lot calmer and less alone but it will also give you hope that you too can get over this fear.
You should start sitting at the bottom of a staircase and becoming more familiar with it. Take time to study it and really delve into why it scares you. Usually, when people start to become more and more familiar with an object, in your case, stairs, it becomes less intimidating to them and certainly less scary. Keep telling yourself that they are just stairs; they are inanimate objects and, on their own, cannot hurt you.
Watch trusted friends or family members use the stairs
Taking the time and forcing yourself to watch those you love going up and down the stairs can help greatly reduce the amount of fear that you associate with a staircase. Very often fears will grow and grow because we tend to remove the object of fear from our lives, which lets our imagination run away with us and therefore intensify the fear. Confronting the object of your fear by watching loved ones use them will help you to realise that these people, who you trust, are not being hurt and are not scared, so why should stairs frighten you?
Ask someone you trust to walk up or down the stairs with you
Having watched those you trust use the stairs easily and without pain or accident, ask those you feel most comfortable with to help you ascend the stairs. Take it easy, there is no reason why all these tips have to happen within a few days of each other. Take your time and do it as you feel comfortable. Choose stairs that have a wide bannister or balustrade and hold on to it and whoever you are with.
Ask another trusted supporter to stand a few steps up from you and that’s your target point. Once you have got to them, stop and take in your achievement and then go back down the stairs. Keep doing this and try to go a little bit further each time. If it proves too much, do not worry. Overcoming a fear is a lengthy process and no one should rush you. It may take hours, it may take days but if you take your time and go steady, your confidence will build up and slowly but surely, your supporters can drop off and let you ascend or descend the stairs on your own.
Keep your eyes and mind wide open
A lot of people make the mistake of closing their eyes when they are scared. This only allows the mind to wander and makes it easier for your fear to take over, which prevents the body from moving. If you keep your eyes open, your mind will be open and your body will be more willing to go up each step that is in front of them. Stay focused on what you want to achieve and you’ll find your fear soon starts to disappear.
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Laura writes for banister retailer, Seagull Ballustrades (stainless steel and oak handrail). She blogs on a variety of psychology and cognitive science topics and is a big fan of social media